Thursday, July 10, 2008

More on Trade in The Festrian Frontier

IN the Festrian Empire, and in some of the clusters around it, there's enough good ports that commercial spec ships can make a good, safe living - indeed, if you're wealthy enough to handle the down payment on a starship, you can become tremendously wealthy with very little risk.

Many clusters in the frontier subsectors are not like that. One in particular I have in mind has an A and a B port, but they are three parsecs apart; the rest of the worlds in the cluster are all C or D class worlds, most of which are non industrial - I don't recall the tech distribution overall, but the A port can't produce any ship better than tech 9.

So we have a situation where there's a group of worlds which, while survivable, are only barely self-sufficient. I'd reckon that without trade between them, these worlds would be at serious risk - so there's demand for merchant activity.

But that's a tough proposition. The way I've been thinking of house-ruling milspec-scout spec, Festerian milspec quality ships can't be produced until Tech 13.

So any Free Trader plying a cluster like this would do so at risk of drive failure and misjump on half of its jumps, assuming it just did milk-runs back and forth from the A or B port worlds. Let's see: 1 in 36 rolls is a 12, so if I understand the probabilities correctly, if half of these jumps are subject to use of unrefined fuel, that's 1 in 72 jumps where there might be a misjump.

While there can certainly be enough profit in spec trade that someone might take the occasional deadly risk, I don't think someone would deliberately Dice with the Deep every other jump if they could reduce the risk some way.

So, meh. Either ships have to have double-jump fuel tankage so they can at least do two successive jumps on refined fuel, or I suck it up and use some sort of fuel purification plant (I can use high guard as a model, there; the smallest TL 9 plant is 9 tons, IIRC; not expensive in credits, really, and not as bad a hit as doubling your jump tankage. )

A Frontier Trader version of the type A, then, might either carry 50 tons of fuel at the expense of 20 tons of cargo, or I can go with the fuel plants and sacrifice 9 tons of cargo. The plant would end up paying for itself pretty quickly.

But I don't want to bring HG into this thing, so:

For the cluster in question - and perhaps elsewhere in similar regions - the standard vessels should typically carry about twice the jump fuel that the LBB2 standard ships do, in order to extend the effective "safe" range of the ships. They'll certainly be Jump-1 vessels: extra loads of fuel for a Jump-2 would be prohibitive for anything but military craft. So A free trader there will carry fifty tons of fuel, and 62 tons of cargo if nothing else is changed. I'm going to take a closer look at the cluster later, to see what else might be shifted: if the ship can't count on a full house of high passengers, for example, I might pull a stateroom or two; maybe some of the low berths.


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